CoronaVirus Symptoms And Protecting Yourself
The coronavirus, which has caused more than 3,000 deaths globally, has left the world in “uncharted territory,” World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a recent media briefing.
The coronavirus disease 2019, (COVID-19), was first detected in Wuhan, a city in China’s Hubei Province. Ghebreyesus said the new virus is unique because it can cause few to no symptoms at all, or it can cause a severe illness that can lead to death.
As of March 3, a total of 90,893 cases have been reported globally, and 3,110 deaths, according to WHO. Of the total number, the majority of cases were reported in China. Outside of China, 1,848 cases were reported and 80 percent of the cases are from South Korea, Iran, and Italy.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 60 confirmed coronavirus cases with six deaths, as of March 3. The deaths involve six people from the state of Washington.
Public health officials say that COVID-19 symptoms vary from person-to-person, and may appear two to 14 days after exposure. Some cases can start with mild, cold- or flu-like symptoms while more severe cases can cause pneumonia and even death.
Infected individuals may experience symptoms such as:
- Shortness of breath
Business Insider, a financial and business news website, outlined a daily scenario on the type of symptoms people experience over a two-and-a-half-week period:
- Day 1: Individuals may have a fever, fatigue, muscle pain, a dry cough
- Day 5: Individuals may have breathing difficulties
- Day 7: Average time when people are admitted to the hospital
- Day 8: Individuals with severe cases develop acute respiratory distress syndrome, which is often fatal.
- Day 10: Average time when symptoms worsen and people are admitted to the Intensive Care Unit
- Day 17: Average time for hospital discharge for people who recover from the virus.
According to the WHO, the virus can lead to pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and death.
How Does it Spread?
The virus mainly spreads between people in close contact (about six feet) with each other, but CDC officials are not sure how easily the disease is transmitted.
So far, the CDC says it’s possible for the virus to spread when:
- An infected person’s cough or sneeze produces respiratory droplets, and land in the mouths and noses of people nearby. People in close contact with the infected person can also inhale the droplets into their lungs.
- People touch a surface or object that has the COVID-19 virus on it and then touch their own mouth, nose, or eyes.
In recent weeks, health officials discovered that the virus can spread in the community (called “community transmission” or “community spread”) through an unknown source. On February 26, the CDC confirmed a community transmission case in California where an individual with the virus had not traveled or had any known contact with another infected person.
A Carrier with No Apparent Symptoms
Research continues on the virus but medical professionals still have many unanswered questions about the virus, which appears to affect people of all ages.
For instance, a research letter published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) told of a 20-year-old woman from Wuhan, China who traveled over 400 miles to visit relatives in January. She did not appear to have any coronavirus symptoms, according to the letter, published online on February 21.
After she arrived, however, all five of her family members developed COVID-19. None of her relatives had previous contact with anyone else from Wuhan. Four of the five relatives were women who ranged in age from 42 to 57.
Test results on the 20-year-old woman showed that she had been infected with SARS-CoV-w (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) and she had been experiencing fatigue and muscle pain.
Tips on Protecting Yourself Against COVID-19
There is no vaccine for COVID-19, according to the CDC. However, in severe cases, people are hospitalized and receive support for their vital organ functions.
Since there is no specific treatment, global health officials offer the following tips on how to protect yourself against the virus:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, and before eating. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Maintain a distance of at least 3 feet between you and someone who is coughing or sneezing
- Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then, throw the tissue in the trash.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- WHO recommends seeking medical care early if you have fever, cough, or breathing difficulties.
Should You Wear a Mask?
Face masks have been flying off of store shelves in the wake of news about COVID-19 deaths in the United States. Public health authorities, however, are advising people who are healthy to avoid wearing face masks.
The CDC recommends people who have COVID-19 symptoms wear a mask to help prevent spreading the disease. In addition, face masks are vital for health workers and people caring for others in close settings, such as a home or a health care facility.
To find out the latest COVID-91 updates, visit the CDC’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
We will update with new information as it evolves!